Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter blessings, Passover greetings, Happy Spring!

About this time each year, I 
remember an Easter  project I’ve always wanted to try. The trouble is, think of it at the last minute. It actually takes several weeks of advanced preparation.

What I had in mind was an Easter basket filled with live grass, and a display of bunnies and chicks, colored eggs and candies, all nestled amidst the fresh green sprouts…

a springtime vignette, like you’d find inside the panoramic sugar eggs we had as kids. Cute, huh?

Convincing my husband to help with projects like these is the tricky part. His willingness to humor my flights of fancy goes only so far, and generally does not include arranging porcelain figures into whimsical tableaux. Fortunately, an Internet search for “Living Easter Basket” provided simple instructions for getting him started.

Three weeks before Easter, Jim planted grass seed in an old basket. Within a week, the tender shoots began to sprout. By Easter, the grass had filled the basket entirely, and was practically ready for a trim. Perfect timing! 

I’ve paired it with a basket quilt, made from blocks I won at a guild raffle back in 1987. The pattern is from Fons and Porter’s book, Classic Basket Patterns, 1984 (out of print).

In any quilt block exchange, there are a few blocks that end up larger or smaller than the others. I made them into a pillow…

and label for the back of the quilt.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I’m Back!

Hello! I bet you didn’t expect to see me again, not after almost two year’s absence from Persnickety Quilts. I’m as surprised as you. Once I lost my blogging mojo, I didn’t expect to get it back.

You don’t need a tedious litany of what’s kept me from posting. Basically, I lost interest in quilting. Weird, huh, after almost 35 years! I stopped dreaming of quilts, stopped lusting after fabric, and even stopped reading your blogs. Worse yet, I didn’t even care that my passion had waned.

I hadn’t stopped creating all together, just changed my focus for awhile. A decades old project of collecting, restoring, and archiving family photos kept calling for my attention. While I was at it, I rejoined and developed several new branches of our family tree.

But in the back of my mind lay those quilts that I never got around to documenting. I began to see a correlation between the ancestry I’d been researching, and my quilts, which are certainly a big part of my personal history. It’s time to get their stories down on paper (or into cyberspace) for posterity.

A few friends have encouraged me to revive my blog. The biggest obstacle to posting has always been photography. After all, what’s a quilt blog without pictures? My friend, Linda, is helping with day to day stuff, including photographing my lovely new blog header, while Sherry, at Simonetti Studios, is shooting each quilt’s official portrait. I'm so lucky to have their help and support.

Since some of you may be curious about my health, it is stable. I’m still paralyzed on my right side, wheel chair bound, and dependent on others for my basic needs. But I'm relieved to say, my Multiple Sclerosis has stopped progressing. As long as my left hand works, I can use the computer, and reconnect with you!

If you’re new to Persnickety Quilts, click the blog header to view previous posts. And don’t be shy about leaving comments. You don’t need to create an account in order to respond,  just sign in as “Anonymous” and include your name in your comment. 

It’s good to be back!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Good Day

Any day spent with friends is a really good day!
Quilt friends, Sheila, Kathy and Mary.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Garden Maze

It finally feels like Spring around here and I’ve got a new quilt to celebrate the season. It's inspired by Marian Edwards, whose beautiful blog is a must read for anyone interested in antique and reproduction quilts, especially of the small variety.

Marian made her little quilt with bits and pieces left over from other quilt projects. I had similar bits lying around my own sewing room:

a single Dresden Plate block,

a couple appliqu├ęd flower blocks,

and some strips of 1930's style fabric.

These bits were left over from classes I'd taken or taught. If you make a lot of class samples or demo blocks, why not fashion them from similar styles of fabric? That way, they can be used together in another project, rather than collect dust in your sewing space. My choice of 1930's fabrics was a simple one; anything made with this cheerful palette of colors goes together.

Kathy Smith used my pieces to create a miniature 1930's style sampler quilt. Of course, she had to add quite a bit to the remnants I gave her, but what a worthwhile effort it was!  She brought new life to what certainly would have remained useless scraps, if left in my care.

Kathy hand quilted simple designs, reminiscent of 1930's quilts.

I've named the quilt "Garden Maze," for the labyrinthine pattern created by the strip pieced blocks. It measures 27” square and is backed with a sweet jonquil print.

Our grand kitty, Gandalf, laid claim to the quilt as we tried to take pictures. I love the way his little tippy toes rest right at the edge. 

I hope Spring has sprung where you live and that it inspires you to make something fresh and new.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Birthday Treats

What’s sweeter on a birthday than cake and ice cream? How about a new doll quilt from my friend Barb?

I’ve mentioned before, our tradition of swapping doll quilts on birthdays. Half the fun is the anticipation, knowing exactly what the gift will be, yet trying to guess which pattern and fabrics Barb will use. She's delighted me every time!

This year’s birthday quilt is a Courthouse Steps Log Cabin, made from double pink fabrics and shirting prints, particular favorites of both Barb's and mine.

Each log measures ¾”.

Of course, Barb included a surprise on the back of the quilt too. This time it‘s Parisien advertising labels ~ so pretty!

There were plenty of birthday treats from other friends as well. Terri baked a tray of mini cupcakes, using this classic Chicago restaurant recipe. They were moist, light, and way too easy to pop into my mouth whole. When Linda visited a few days later, she couldn't have known that the peppermint ice cream she brought for dessert would be used as a prop in a photo shoot (or that she‘d be enlisted as photographer).   

Thank you, dear friends, for indulging me so beautifully, so lovingly and so sweetly on my birthday. Your friendship enriches this tiny world I live in and makes it easier to face each day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Every Stitch a Blessing, Every Stitch a Prayer

This is not the blog post I'd hoped to start the new year with. My dad’s health has been declining since Christmas and sadly, he passed away last week. Dad had Lewy Body Dementia, a cruel combination of symptoms similar to both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Dad died peacefully in his sleep, while in the care of hospice. He didn’t suffer, he didn’t linger and for that we are grateful. He was a devoted husband, a great dad and grandfather and an all around good guy, who will be remembered for his cheerful and fun loving spirit.

People handle grief in different ways. For me, it 's natural to turn to needle and thread for solace. During the mid 1990’s, my needle got quite a workout when we lost several family members and friends within a few short years: a beloved aunt and uncle, my dear brother and his partner, a favorite grade school teacher, and the owner of the quilt shop where I worked. In the midst of it all, I also received my diagnosis of MS.

It was tempting to wallow in self pity during those years, but I had to keep it together for my health and family’s sake. In true “fake it till you make it” fashion, I turned to quilting to cope with my grief and loss.

I worked intuitively, without a pattern or color scheme, randomly pulling fabrics from my scrap basket, giving them a casual trim with scissors, and putting them in piles of lights and darks. When I had enough pieces to run through the machine, I sewed them into "liberated" log cabin blocks.

What began as mindless stitching became a prayerful experience. Snip, sort, sew. Snip, sort, sew. The quiet focus and familiar rhythm helped soothe my broken heart. It's a mourning quilt of sorts, and a testament to the therapeutic value of quilt making.